House of Commons Library

UK aid: frequently asked questions

Published Thursday, October 3, 2019

What is aid? What is the UN 0.7% aid target and why has the UK adopted it? Which government departments spend UK aid? What impact does UK aid have? What will be the impact of Brexit on UK aid? These and other questions are answered in an accessible way in this briefing paper.

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The UK’s foreign aid programme was a source of considerable controversy during the 2015-17 parliament. Sections of the public and the media, along with some politicians, questioned the purpose and value of important elements of that programme. Although it has perhaps been less intense, debate about UK aid has continued during the current parliament.

Using a Q&A format, this briefing is an introduction to the UK’s aid programme and some of the activities flowing from it around the world. It is not comprehensive in its coverage. It does not take a position on those issues which have generated controversy. Its sole objective is to support an informed debate.

We hope that it will be useful for Members and their staff – including when it comes to answering questions from constituents.

The briefing will be periodically updated but we cannot guarantee that it will always be fully up-to-date. If in doubt, members and their staff should contact the authors to check the status of the information that they wish to use.

Other relevant Library briefings include:

Overseas aid: who gives what to whom? (March 2019)

Brexit: trade aspects (October 2017)

The 2016 Bilateral and Multilateral Development Reviews (December 2016)

Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill 2016-17 (November 2016)

DFID's Civil Society Partnership Review (CSPR) (November 2016)

The 0.7% aid target (June 2016)

The Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda (September 2015)

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